AFTER fostering hundreds of children in a period spanning almost 43 years, two foster carers have been awarded with MBEs.

Rodney and Rosalie James, aged 81 and 80 respectively, were recognised in the New Year Honours List after finishing fostering last summer.

The Abingdon couple fostered children aged from just five days old up to 18 years of age.

Rules stipulate foster carers can only foster a maximum of three children at a time, but that has not stopped this remarkable couple changing the lives of hundreds of children in Oxfordshire.

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Mrs James said: “We had three children of our own and seemed to acquire other peoples’ when they needed looking after and it went from there.

“The first child we fostered, we actually adopted and then we adopted another girl too.

“I have no idea how many children we’ve fostered but a rough guess would be 450.

“Some of them would be overnight stays, some short-term and some relief care for children with learning disabilities.

“We felt we had a lot to offer and liked the challenge of helping other people.

“We’re glad we’ve been able to help so many children and families over the years. It brought all sorts of challenges but it was always very rewarding.”

Oxford Mail: Rosalie and Rodney James celebrating their 40th year of fostering in 2017Rosalie and Rodney James celebrating their 40th year of fostering in 2017

Mrs James said she and her husband have known about the MBEs for just a month.

“We found out in December that we’d been chosen for the award on a laptop screen with our children and some of our grandchildren,” she said.

“We couldn’t do anything but talk to each other, but it was still a nice thing to celebrate.”

The bug for fostering was passed on to the couple’s eldest daughter, who adopted a child Mr and Mrs James had previously fostered.

Furthermore, three siblings the couple fostered for nearly two years were adopted by a grandchild, seeing Mr and Mrs James become the siblings’ great grandparents.

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Wendy Queralt, fostering team manager at Oxfordshire County Council said: “Rod and Rosalie have provided love and support to all of the children that they have fostered and adopted, and I know that many of them remain in touch with the James’.

“In recent years, Rosalie has worked tirelessly to support the fostering community within South Oxfordshire through the support group that she ran.

“This has been a real lifeline for many carers who have few people that they can talk to confidentially.

“She has shared the highs and the lows with many carers and has been an invaluable support to us as a team and the wider service.”

To find out more about fostering, call 0800 783 5724 or visit the county council website.

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